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Engineering Ethics Instruction As An Integrated Professional Component

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Moral Development, Engineering Pedagogy and Ethics Instruction

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.563.1 - 11.563.9



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Paper Authors


Kevin Schmaltz Western Kentucky University

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Kevin Schmaltz teaches thermo-fluid and professional component courses in Mechanical Engineering, including the Freshman Experience course, Sophomore Design, Junior Design and the Senior Project Design course sequence. Prior to teaching at WKU, he was a project engineer for Shell Oil, designing and building oil and gas production facilities for offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Engineering Ethics Instruction as an Integrated Professional Component


The Mechanical Engineering faculty at Western Kentucky University have developed and implemented a Professional Plan to assure that graduates of the program have experienced key areas of the engineering profession and demonstrated their abilities to perform in a professional manner. This Professional Component includes Engineering Design, Professional Communications, Professional Tools, and Engineering Ethics, with students receiving instruction and practice in each area at least once per academic year. This paper will detail the Engineering Ethics component, which has been created to provide students with a framework for understanding professional expectations, techniques for clarifying the ambiguity of ethical dilemmas, and familiarity with both classic and typical ethical cases. The delivery of ethics within the team-based Professional Component classes provides an appropriate forum for group discussion and resolution of ethical situations. We believe that inclusion of Engineering Ethics on an equal footing with the other professional skills is appropriate and required. The philosophy that motivates the four-year ethics instruction is to expose freshmen to ethical cases and published codes to provide expected behavior. Sophomores perform more in-depth analyses of cases to develop judgment. Juniors not only analyze cases, but also clarify the circumstances of cases. During the senior project sequence, seniors again demonstrate problem definition and resolution through case studies as well as their own project activities. To improve ethics instruction, two phases of assessment are implemented. Overall course assessment is performed for all courses using a collective Peer Evaluation of Course Effectiveness at the end of the semester. In addition, ethics-specific assessment is incorporated into the Program Outcome: ME graduates can judge appropriate professional and ethical conduct. Program Outcomes are measured using several methods and are reviewed on an annual basis. The integrated Professional Component structure provides a framework for building upon previous coursework, assessing student progress, and adjusting course coverage based on prior assessments to assure that departing graduates do not experience a wide gap between their campus experiences and professional practices.


The ME faculty at Western Kentucky University (WKU) have developed and implemented a sequence of professional experiences for students pursuing a baccalaureate ME degree that is consistent with overall mission of the engineering department [1]: …to produce, as its graduates, competent engineering practitioners. An engineering practitioner is one who has a foundation of basic science, mathematics, and engineering knowledge, combined with practical knowledge and experience in applying existing technology to contemporary problems. … Program curricula will be project-based. Students will have sufficient opportunity to

Schmaltz, K. (2006, June), Engineering Ethics Instruction As An Integrated Professional Component Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--899

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